Monday, February 26, 2024

College Player Ejected for Bat Flip - Unraveling Nebraska vs Grand Canyon U

Grand Canyon University batter Tyler Wilson hit a grand slam to tie the Nebraska-GCU game, but was ejected by the HP Umpire during his home run trot for a bat flip near first base. What are college baseball's sportsmanship rules and was an ejection all over flipping a bat during a big moment in a game necessary?

We begin the night before Sunday's game in question, with both Nebraska and GCU trading celebrations after executing plays that benefited their respective teams. On their own, these celebrations are, effectively, unremarkable—players are allowed to celebrate success on the field.

The issue came to a head, however, in the 7th inning, with GCU pitcher Nathan Ward's exuberant celebration after a check swing strikeout to end Nebraska's top half. That attracted the attention not just of Nebraska, but the plate umpire who ordered Ward back to the dugout. Nebraska's head coach was seen speaking with umpires during the inning break.

After the game, the two teams met in the outfield and exchange unsporting words, indicating held over resentment, all leading to Sunday's game when Wilson hit his game-tying grand slam and flipped his bat, having held onto it until passing the halfway point down the first baseline.

As for why umpires ejected Wilson for his bat flip, we refer to the NCAA Baseball rulebook.

In addition to the Coaching/Players' Code of Ethics prohibiting unsportmanlike behavior, NCAA 5-17, newly amended for 2023-24, prohibits actions that "reflect poor sportsmanship," specifically including, "Bat flips near or toward an opponent or umpire." The penalty in college is a warning after the first offense and an ejection for any further unsportsmanlike conduct after the warning.

NCAA 3-6-b obliges umpires to enforce these rules: "[Each umpire] is obliged to conduct the game under conditions conducive to the highest standards of good sportsmanship."

The Official Baseball Rule (professional/MLB/MiLB) version of the sportsmanship rule is OBR 6.04, with ejections mandated by umpires' rule OBR 8.01(d).

NFHS 3-3-1f prohibits "any unsportsmanlike act" including taunting (3-3-1c: "carelessly throw a bat") while high school rule 10-1-6 authorizes umpires to eject for these violations.


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